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Genital Herpes Symptoms in Women

Genital herpes symptoms in women

Take Charge of Your Health

The CDC estimates as many as 25%​ ​of​ ​women have​ ​genital​ ​herpes​ and don’t know they have it because it is often asymptomatic​. If you think you may have been exposed to genital herpes, get tested. Genital herpes can easily be managed with antiviral medication.

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Most common symptoms

  • Silent or no symptoms

Less common symptoms

  • Sores or blisters
    • Around the vaginal region
    • On the vulva or cervix
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Body aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itch
  • Painful urination

Least common symptoms

  • Sores, blisters, or ulcers
    • inside or around the anus
    • around the buttocks and thighs
  • Trouble urinating
  • Meningitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Eczema herpetiform
  • Eye infection

How will I know if I have genital herpes?

Genital herpes is not usually accommodated by symptoms. Two-thirds of genital herpes cases are asymptomatic. Getting tested for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 is the only sure way to know if you have genital herpes. Blisters or sores in the genital area, fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, tiredness and painful urination call all be symptoms of genital herpes.

What do genital herpes outbreaks feel or look like?

Patients with genital herpes have reported that outbreaks or episodes typically diminish through the years. Early prodromal symptoms, or warning signals, that are followed by outbreaks. These prodromal symptoms often include mild tingling or shooting pains in the legs, hips and buttocks, and can last from 2 hours to 2 days. After the prodromal symptoms occur the blisters develop into painful red spots, which then evolve into yellowish, clear fluid-filled blisters after a day or two. These blisters burst or break and leave ulcers that usually heal in about 10 days. In women, blisters can develop inside the vagina and cause painful urination.

What causes or triggers genital herpes outbreaks?

Although the cause is unknown, outbreaks are often associated with periods of weakened immune systems, skin wounds, menstruation, fever, nerve damage, tissue damage from surgery, or exposure to extreme climate situations. A genital herpes outbreak or episode occurs when the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus is reactivated from its dormant stage. Genital herpes is an incurable disease, and once you contract it, you may experience outbreaks throughout your lifetime. Those who are experiencing their first herpes episode of genital herpes can expect to have several (typically four or five) outbreaks within a year. Over time these recurrences usually decrease in frequency and severity. The first outbreak of herpes is often the longest outbreak experienced. After that, short and inconsistent episodes can be managed and treated with antiviral medication.

  1. "Herpes Signs and Symptoms." American Sexual Health Association.
  2. "STD Facts - Genital Herpes (Detailed Version)." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  3. "Genital Herpes." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  4. "Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medically Reviewed by on December 21, 2022

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